Marshall’s Not the First One to Have High Hopes for Hester

Sep 19, 2010; Arlington, TX, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester(23) cannot make the catch against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. The Bears beat the Cowboys 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

The headline from Brandon Marshall’s latest radio appearance is along the lines of “Marshall Predicts Big Season for Hester.”  The big Free Agent fish was effusive in his praise of the Ridiculous One in his appearance on the Waddle and Silvy Show Monday afternoon.  Have a listen here.

“I’ve never been around a receiver, never seen a receiver who runs routes like Devin Hester does outside,” Marshall said Monday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “He has all the skills to be a Pro Bowl receiver, not a punt returner — we all know what he can do there — but a Pro Bowl receiver.

“Honestly I think he is going to have a bigger year than me this year. I just don’t think he’s been in an environment, a situation offensively that catered to him as a player. I think with [quarterback coach] Jeremy Bates and [quarterback] Jay [Cutler] growing and maturing, I think they will be able to put him in a better position this year to where he can probably do damage. I’m excited about everyone else, but the person I’m more excited to see is Devin.”

I don’t mean to rain on Marshall’s parade, but he’s not the first person who thought Devin Hester was going to have a breakout season as a wide receiver.  From the days when Muhsin Muhammed was helping him line up in the right place, we’ve all hoped that Hester was the next Steve Smith.

I’m not sure if the Bears really believed that or just tried to convince themselves of that when they gave him a lucrative contract, laden in performance escalators based on his play as a wide receiver.  They did their level best to convince us, to convince Jay Cutler that Devin was a “go up and get it guy.”  Phil Emery was so convinced of that, he waited all of about 30 seconds to trade for Marshall when the league year started.

Let’s face it, the Bears got caught in a difficult situation when Hester’s contract came up a few years ago.  It’s not like they could have let the game’s greatest returner to walk as a free agent, so they had to ante up a healthy contract to keep Hester happy.  They loaded the deal full of bonus money, largely based on Hester performing as a wide receiver.

The problem Hester has isn’t running his routes; it’s getting a clear release off the line and actually catching the ball in traffic.  Perhaps the addition of Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery, with Earl Bennett in the slot, will give Hester an opportunity to shine in the “Devin Package” that Emery discussed post-draft.

Then again, Devin is a pretty sensitive guy and maybe the team is pushing the “Devin Package” propaganda in an effort to convince Devin that he is still valuable to the offense.  Since he’s most likely off kickoff returns anyway, what’s left for Hester anyway?

What do you think?  Will Hester have a breakout season in 2012?  Can Marshall create some new lanes that didn’t exist before for Hester?  Let’s hear ya.

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  • http://www.beardownone.blogspot.com/ Beardownone

    I have been saying it forever. The Bears have used Hester wrong since they put him on offense. Hester is best in space where he can make people miss. I hate to keep beating a dead horse but, use him like the 85 team used Dennis Gentry. He lined up all over ran underneath routes, screens even draw plays. Look how effective Forté is on screens and he is not nearly as elusive as Hester is. Marshell is dead on about how if he is used correctly he will be more effective then he has been. Now I don’t think he will be a probowl reciever but much more effective.

  • TomSchwarz

    I do think Hester can be a fantastic WR.  At the number 3 or 4 slot.  He is NOT a #1 WR.  Nor is he even a #2.  If defenses key in on him, he’s done.  If defenses are more worried about other weapons (like Marshall, Jeffery, and Forte) Hester will be in much better position to succeed.
     
    Also, as Beardownone said, you really can’t use Hester as just a deep ball guy.  All it takes is a safety (who are generally bigger and stronger then Devin without being as slow as a LB) to get in his face and that deep ball is gone.  Get him low in on slants or screens and let him get the ball in his hand BEFORE he faces a big LB or safety and he’ll make them miss.I don’t think he’ll be a Pro Bowl receiver, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see his best production yet this year. 

  • BearGogglesOn

    I’d be happy if Hester knows where to line up and can catch 45-50 balls with 5-6 TD’s.  If you’re getting that kind of production from your 3rd or 4th receiver, you’ve got a hell of an offense. @Beardownone